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Crafting the Story of Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout with Yashichiro Takahashi

by Jean-Karlo Lemus,


The Atelier series has always had a cadre of loyal fans, but the Secret trilogy starring Reisalin Stout truly thrust the entire series into the spotlight. The trilogy might have ended with the release of Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key in March, but this summer's anime adaptation of Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout gives both fans and newcomers the chance for a final victory lap with Ryza in her home of Kurken. Anime News Network was lucky enough to sit down with Yashichiro Takahashi, who wrote the first and third Ryza games and produced and wrote the Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout anime, on his experience contributing to Ryza and her world.

How does it feel to know that Ryza has become so beloved worldwide? Did you expect her to make this much of an impact on audiences?

Yashichiro Takahashi: I am very happy to hear that a significant portion of the series' sales comes from overseas. From the very beginning, when Koei Tecmo asked me to write the scenario, I clearly recall that the entire staff had the spirit of "trying something new with a new series." Although I didn't anticipate the unexpected ways the impact of the challenge would have, I did have high hopes for it.

What are some things you wish you could have written about Ryza and her friends?

TAKAHASHI: Regarding the game, in Atelier Ryza, there were a lot of things I wanted to write, but because of the word limit, I had to reduce it considerably. In particular, the events in the underworld, the relationship between Lent and his parents, the story of the elders, etc. For Atelier Ryza 3, I was allowed to write as I pleased, but I remember that I held back on the details of romantic relationships as it would have affected the main plot.

For the anime, the arrangement of the main and sub-episodes was a matter of trial and error, but I do not feel that they are lacking in any way. However, due to the structure of the story, Bos in the anime is still in the early stages, so I was not able to include him in the daily life of Ryza and the other characters. If there is another opportunity, I would like to depict that as well.


What was your favorite part of working on Atelier Ryza?

TAKAHASHI: While developing the story, there were many elements that I enjoyed putting together, such as the development of the story based on working backward from the mystery that was to be revealed and hints of what's to come that would be scattered throughout the story. Although it was painful when it came to actually writing the scenario.

On an individual episode basis, Empel and Lila, and the Bos relationship, including Moritz and Lumbar, are generally my favorites. Also, Ryza is a girl who naturally moves around unhindered, and her willingness to cut loose in difficult situations was always an exhilarating experience for me to write.

What were some unique challenges that arose during your time writing for the Atelier Ryza games?

TAKAHASHI: It's not as big as to be called a challenge, but for Atelier Ryza, Koei Tecmo gave me the completed setting, the main plot, the theme, and mood of the story, and other requirements, which I then connected together like a puzzle and delved into the details. The procedure for creating the story was the exact opposite of a novel, where everything is created from scratch. It was a tough process, but it was also a new and fresh experience.

How does it feel to go over the story for Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout for the animated adaptation? Did you feel like certain things needed to be modified for the anime, say, in order to maintain the interest of older fans who already know the story or because you weren't satisfied with how they were done back then?

TAKAHASHI: The single summer adventure conjures up images that everyone can relate to, such as the lively excitement of running around in the middle of summer and the sorrow of the inevitable end of that summer. For the production of the animation, it was decided to accurately reproduce the game's original story. However, it would not work as an animation if we simply replayed scenes that had been seen in the game. Therefore, to create an atmosphere in which Ryza and her friends are living in those scenes, it was necessary to add various elements to flesh out the animation. I believe that these natural additions and depictions, which are not overly flashy, are the elements that are unique to anime and that will be enjoyed by the audience who is drawn into Ryza and her friends.


Between Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout and Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key, we see Ryza grow into an adult. Was it hard finding ways to show Ryza's maturity without betraying her central character?

TAKAHASHI: Initially, Ryza is mischievous as her reputation suggests, and her recklessness is an ideal starting point for her innocent nature. Her growth from there follows the progression of the game, and the final chapter concludes with her settling a proposition as an adult with competence and judgment. Despite any obstacles, it is not something that changes the nature of who she is, and since she is the protagonist, there is no wavering in her character itself, and so there was no difficulty in portraying her growth.

Do you feel like you have changed as a result of writing Ryza's story, be it personally or as a writer? What are some things you've learned through Ryza?

TAKAHASHI: I suppose the only change was...that the format of the game scenario was in Excel, so I started using it for the first time in a long time. There were many things I learned, particularly the sharing of common perceptions in group work, which was more challenging than I could have imagined since it is so different from the minimal scale of working on a novel. Although I have not been scolded, I tremble with fear at the thought that I probably caused a lot of trouble for Koei Tecmo! (laughs)

What is the best thing that has happened to you as a result of working on Atelier Ryza?

TAKAHASHI: I guess it was the fact that I had the rare opportunity to experience the full-length scenario of an RPG, which is a challenging and worthwhile task. Furthermore, I think it was an even rarer opportunity to be able to depict the same characters, their development, and their conclusions. For me, it has been a really satisfying work.

Do you have any final words for the Ryza fans among our readers?

TAKAHASHI: Thank you very much for your support, which is beyond what I could have ever imagined. I am grateful for the support received from the users, which enabled us to achieve not only the games but also an anime series. To receive your continued support, I would like to put all of my efforts into the work that I will deliver to you. I hope you will continue to support Atelier Ryza.

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